03 May 2011

Agassi and Pete - not so much BFFs

Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras battled it out so much during their long careers and who would have thought they'd end up sparring so publicly after their retirements.

The whole mess makes me a bit sad, even though I was always Team Andre and struggled to ever warm up to Pete. Even after recently reading his autobiography, I still didn't find much to like about Pete. Yes, his game was amazing and efficient and tennis purists have told me I can't be a tennis fan without liking Pete (to which I say, whatever) but I just didn't enjoy him on or off the court.

I always, however, appreciated the rivalry and knew it was fantastic for tennis. But just as we've seen with Rafa and Fed, rivalries can really polarise fans and for me I never wanted Andre to win more than I did when he played Pete. 

Even though I'm a huge Andre fan I still can criticise him and admit when he acts like a dick. Yes, he shouldn't have said what he did at last year's Hit for Haiti. He's taken a lot of grief for what he said and I agree he should have kept it professional and remembered what they were playing for. Andre has apologised publicly for what he said and personally rang Pete to apologise.

However, in the latest installment of Andre and Pete's post-retirement snippyness I have to say I think Pete is the one who's going to have to grow up. After their most recent exhibition at Madison Square Garden, Andre called Pete to say he thought Pete should have taken it easier on Andre to give the fans more entertainment. I think this was totally necessary (perhaps coming more from an event organiser or agent tho?) as it was clear that Andre's body is not able to keep up with Pete. Let's remember why they retired - Pete did not retire because his body gave out. Andre possibly would have played much longer had his back issues not prevented him from doing so. Pete's fitness was never in doubt and for his age he looks fantastic; Andre on the other hand looks like an old hurting man. It's clear his back issues have not gone away and he could not play this exhibition with the same intensity as Pete.

Apparently after Andre told Pete he needed to make the exhibition more competitive the two got into a heated phone discussion and that lead to Pete refusing to play Andre in an upcoming exhibition they had schedule in Buenos Aires. Pete even went so far as to ask not to meet Andre at any point during their recent time there. Who wins in this strained relationship? No one - fans bought tickets to this exo, and instead did not get to see Pete and Andre play each other. Who knows if they will move past the latest disagreement and face off anytime in the future.

It's all a huge shame, as the fans are the ones who lose out but I think it's sad that these post-career spats may create more of a lasting impression than their amazing rivalry.

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